Natural Disasters

Storm Surge cover art

How Superstorm Sandy Inspired an Award-Winning Book

“A lot of the challenge is understanding what we as a species should do, because the disasters are getting more prevalent. In the last hundred years, both in human and financial costs, damages are skyrocketing. Most of that is just more people living in dangerous places, but climate change will be more of a factor as time goes on.”

by |September 29, 2015
Map of hazards data points

Mapping Tool Lets Users Pinpoint Hazards Data

The SEDAC Hazards Mapper is designed for disaster risk managers, humanitarian response organizations, public health professionals, journalists and others needing a quick assessment of the potential dangers posed by a major hazardous event or developing emergency.

Map fusion combines night light, population density and elevation data to show the contrast between the densely populated Ganges-Brahmaputra delta and the sparsely populated mountain ranges surrounding it. The urban cores (red) have population densities approaching 100,000 people per square kilometer, while the surrounding agricultural areas have average population densities around 1000 people per square kilometer. Courtesy of Chris Small

A Simple Question, Unexpected Applications – and an Award

Even the simplest research questions can lead to far-reaching public benefits. Consider Chris Small and Joel Cohen’s study of global population by altitude, being honored this week at the Library of Congress.

by |September 14, 2015
An aerial photo shows the edge of the Holuhraun lava flow (blue line), where the lava went over a combination of sand and bedrock. Two types of lava appear on either side of the red line: smooth pahoehoe on the right and rubbly a’a on the left.

From the Field: Mapping Lava Flows in Iceland

Lamont’s Einat Lev and Elise Rumpf write about their expedition to the lava fields of Iceland, where the two volcanologists and a drone named Buzz studied how lava flows and what happens to rivers, rocks and old lava in its path.

by |September 9, 2015

Bringing Together Storm Tracks and Clouds

The storm tracks define the weather and climate in mid-latitudes. A recent workshop in Switzerland highlighted the important role that clouds play for the response of the storm tracks to climate change.

by |September 8, 2015

New York, New Orleans, Charlottetown and Everywhere Else

The disaster in New Orleans was almost uniquely awful in modern American history. But even if Katrina isn’t likely to happen everywhere, something can happen almost anywhere—including, we now know, New York. And further to the north and east.

New Orleans on Sept. 7, 2005. Neighborhoods and highways throughout the area remained flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Photo: Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

Public Health and Climate Change in the Gulf Region

The U.S. Gulf Coast has already felt the lasting effects of extreme weather on public health and infrastructure, and a new study says things could get worse with climate change.

by |August 21, 2015
Hurricane Sandy satellite image

The Disaster Profiteers

In his new book “The Disaster Profiteers,” Earth Institute professor John Mutter argues that natural disasters are bad for the poor–and can be great for the rich, who often seize resources meant for recovery, when no one is looking.

by |August 10, 2015
Dr. Irwin Redlener

The Hidden Stresses of Drought

“Drought affects the economy, water supply, lifestyle, and agricultural productivity. The downstream consequences on humans that are facing these threats, including loss of jobs and daily lifestyle challenges, become overwhelming.”

by |July 22, 2015
Mount Everest

Mt. Everest Not Safe from Climate Change

Climate change has many asking if the days of being able to summit the world’s highest peak are numbered.

by |June 12, 2015